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22 blogs found

South African vineyards have spread into some remarkable areas, way beyond the hub of Stellenbosch, since the quota system was discontinued in 1992. Many are tiny and bravely remote and, like the first four below, high lying with a continental climate.
Reflection,
May 2019
The cliché about absence making the heart grow fonder could possibly be matched by one stating that distance provides clearer perspective.
Across the wine farms of the Western Cape, the Pebbles Project is a significant player in the Early Learning Development (ECD) sector. In just short of 15 years, they have established over 50 ECD centres serving 1 700 children across the Winelands, from Citrusdal at the foot of the Cedarberg mountains in the West, all the way out to the Upper Hemel-en-Aarde Valley near Hermanus in the East.
Training and development have long been a priority of the South African wine industry, because of its ability to improve labour efficiencies, transform lives and boost industry competitiveness.
Above the roof of Villiera’s tasting room is a cluster of demijohns filled with a liquid the colour of café au lait. The contents catch the light intermittently as the sun chases the clouds above, filtering down through the surrounding oaks. Cellarmaster Jeff Grier has colloquially called the rooftop assortment “dakwijn” which translates into ‘roof wine’
The land extending over Schaapenberg and up the slopes of the Hottentots Holland, with the peaks of the Helderberg framing it on the other side, has always been beautiful - even before Governor, Willem Adriaan van der Stel was granted Vergelegen in 1700. Then covering an impressive 30 000 hectares, today, it is ‘just’ 3000 ha, 120 ha of which are devoted to vineyards.
Cycle of life,
April 2019
Almost 20 years ago, the Natural History museum in Cape Town’s Company Gardens was an odd choice for the launch of a new wine brand.
The Cape Wine Auction is the prime fund raising event in the Cape Winelands and this year was no exception, raising a whopping R15 359million, over $US1million.
Down a quiet residential street in Stellenbosch you’ll find ‘Château Naudé’, the home of celebrated winemaker, François Naudé. Modernity—in the forms of offices and apartment blocks—have sprung up around the heritage home, a bona fide national monument. François has lived here for 30 odd years. Like summers trapped in bottles of vintages-past, stepping through the doorway of his home invites you into a nostalgic maelstrom. Photographs of family and friends cover the walls, antique furniture gleams darkly in the low light. There’s wine everywhere; from the subject of art and books as well as bottles piled on every available surface to the subterranean cellar that he built himself.
Coming of age,
March 2019
The remarkable ageing ability of South African red wines from the 1940s to roughly end of 1970s has been recognised by both local and, importantly, international tasters over the course of several years. One of the first old wine tastings, which alerted winelovers and winemakers to their quality, was organised by Michael Fridjhon prior to the Trophy Wine Show; it is now an annual event.
Time in harness,
March 2019
Thelema could never be accused of being flashy or ‘in-your-face’... Their way of doing things is always low-key and very personal – which is something that came up for discussion during a small media gathering at the Helshoogte property recently.
UBUNTU IN ACTION,
March 2019
One would think that a black person with a Master’s degree would easily get a job in South Africa, especially in the agricultural sector. But this is not always the case. It took hard work and a little bit of help from a whole lot of stakeholders for Sibongiseni Silwana to finally land a well-paid, challenging job where he can make a difference.
“We’re bringing in the old vine chenin now,” says managing partner and cellarmaster, Kevin Arnold of Waterford Estate. It’s harvest time in Stellenbosch. The low purr of tractors rumble in the distance; and the scent of fermenting grape juice hangs over the Helderberg region like a ubiquitous summer perfume. It was in fact this aroma that first drew Kevin to his vinous vocation back in his student days.
Harvest 2019,
January 2019
As I write it’s nearly mid-February and Harvest 2019 in the Cape is gathering steam. What will it bring? Taking a break from the cellar, a few winemakers tell me their experience so far.
Real time harvesting,
January 2019
Even just a few weeks in, harvest 2019 has been as challenging and engaging as ever. And probably more real and up to the minute than has ever been possible... because of the social media aspect being played out hour-by-hour and day-by-day on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
The world’s best sommeliers, arguably some of the most influential voices in the world of wine, visited Cape Town last week under the flag of the International Association of Sommeliers (Association de la Sommellerie Internationale, or ASI). This visit formed part of this global industry body’s strategic session ahead of the 2019 Best Sommelier of the World competition, which will be taking place in Belgium later this year.
There are many, many NGOs, crèches and outreach programmes throughout the Cape Winelands that are each doing amazing work and collectively contributing to the general upliftment and care of the community. However, one such organisation went a little further, extending their services and expertise to other NGOs and so freeing them up to do what they do best.
“It was a beautiful day,” says Cape Wine Master, Allan Mullins. “Just perfect for a braai with some friends. We went to this spot between Llandudno and Sandy Bay. There was this gully where water rushed in and out. We decided to try and jump in time to the water filling it. A friend of mine timed it perfectly.
A BUBBLY START TO 2019,
January 2019
A tasting of Méthode Cap Classique, international bubblies made in the same traditional manner and Champagne, is a great way to start the year.
Assaulting the senses,
January 2019
Erika Obermeyer was chuffed just to be invited... to the Platter Wine Guide launch in November last year. “Obviously, I had more than a sneaking suspicion that one of my wines had received 5 Stars!”
There's been a lot of talk of late about the potential of buying South Africa's fine wines as investments. This is a completely new development, and it's not without its sceptics. But many think the fact that it is being talked about suggests that South Africa's top wines have come of age.
Glossy coffee table books on wine usually feature rolling vineyards, spectacular cellars and breath-taking country manors. Not this one. ‘The Colour of Wine’ could sit proudly on your coffee table, and attract a lot of interest. It is a beautiful book, about beautiful people. BUT it is not glossy or glamourous. It tells instead the back story of the South African wine industry, the not-so-pretty account of an industry that grew out of colonialisation, through apartheid BUT today is thriving in a ‘terroir’ of restitution, development, entrepreneurship and a certain infectious gutsy-ness.